Principal scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
When accompanying a group of reporters on a visit to Tanjung Leban village in Bengkalis, Riau, this week I saw some local farmers trying out new crops after losing their oil palm plots to fire.
I remember the forest fires that raged in Indonesia in 2015, especially in Kalimantan. The disaster was the top story for months back then. In the following dry season, in 2016, there was almost no news on peat fires and haze pollution. Was this because the government and communities succeeded in preventing fires? Or was it simply because 2016 was a wetter year and there were fewer fires?
As a scientist, peatlands matter to me because of their unique biological and conservation values. The scientific community is now documenting how immensely valuable peatlands are in storing carbon — and therefore in mitigating climate change.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.